Cubs Minor League Spring Training Game Recap

Bees Whitewash South Bend & Mr Rogers Bashes the 66ers

Jacob Rogers blasted a grand slam home run (off the roof of the Angels clubhouse) and a triple, Billy McKinney belted a solo HR, singled twice, and scored two runs, Mark Zagunis singled twice, walked, and scored a run, and Paul Blackburn threw 5.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball (no-hitter thru 4.2 IP), leading the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) to a 7-1 victory over the Inland Empire 66ers (Los Angeles Angels Hi-A affiliate) on Field #7, and Mike Bolaski (ex-3B) and four relievers combined to toss a six-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts, as the Burlington Bees (Angels Lo-A affiliate) blanked the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) 5-0 on Field #4, in Cactus League Minor League game action this morning at Diablo Park in Tempe, AZ.   

Somewhat appropriately, the Burlington Bees - South Bend Cubs game on Field #4 was delayed for several minutes while a swarm of bees hovered overhead, apparently looking for a landing spot. The players who were on the field at the time hit the ground the way soldiers do when a hand grenade is thrown into their vicinity. This is the second time in two years that bees have descended upon Diablo Park when I've been there (a hive had to be removed from a tractor that was situated in the bullpen at Field #7 last year). Naturally, the Angels have not one but two affiliates (Lo-A Burlington and AAA Salt Lake City) with the "Bees" nickname.  

The game on Field #7 was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair so that all of the pitchers scheduled to throw today could get their scheduled work. 

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Cubs & Pelicans Pitchers Give Bees & 66ers That Sinking Feeling

Chesny Young belted a two-run triple, singled, and walked, Jason Vosler doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, Jesse Hodges ripped an RBI double and a single, Rashad Crawford roped a line-drive RBI single, drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run, and Jeremy Null threw five innings of two-run ball with an amazing 12/1 GO/FO, as the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A  affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to edge the Burlington Bees (Lo-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels) 4-3 on Field #5, and Daury Torrez threw six shutout innings with four strikeouts and an 11/2 GO/FO, Kevin Brown belted a two-run triple, singled twice, and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, and Danny Lockhart roped a two-run single, walked, and scored a run, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Cubs Hi-A affiliate) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.    

The 66ers had just scored four runs in the top of the 9th off Myrtle Beach lefty reliever Gerardo Concepcion to take a 6-2 lead, but the Pelicans came right back with four of their own. 

Both Daury Torrez and Jeremy Null had the sinker working to perfection, combining to produce a 23/3 GO/FO ratio over 11 innings of work, one of the most extraordinary groundball heavy minor league doubleheaders I have seen in some time. Torrez will join Duane Underwood, Tyler Skulina, Paul Blackburn, and Jen-Ho Tseng in the Myrtle Beach starting rotation, and Null will be part of a South Bend rotation that will also feature Jake Stinnett, Erick Leal, Trevor Clifton, James Norwood, and/or Zach Hedges (last slot still TBD)  

The defensive play of the day was turned-in by South Bend CF Trey Martin, who made a spectacular diving catch in right-centerfield after a long run at full speed. Martin is a "long-strider" who can make long distances seem shorter than they really are, but what was especially impressive about Martin's play was that he dived onto his left (non-throwing) shoulder to complete the catch, the same shoulder that was surgically repaired about a year ago.    

With the exception of Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks, the Chicago Cubs left town after last night's Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in anticipation of their MLB Opening Day game tomorrow night at Wrigley Field, leaving minor league players behind to be presented as the "Chicago Cubs" for this afternoon's MLB Cactus League finale. Most of the players assigned to the MLB game at Chase were pulled from the AAA Iowa Cubs roster, but a few came from the Tennessee and Myrtle Beach squads as well. Also, several members of the Myrtle Beach squad were moved up to the Iowa Cubs for this afternoon's Cactus League minor league game in Tempe against the Angels AAA Salt Lake City affiliate, and a number of players from the Cubs Extended Spring Training contingent filled in for the missing Pelicans at Riverview, as well as providing roster depth in the South Bend, Tennessee, and Iowa games.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games played today at Riverview Park (Cubs players only): 

Pelicans Gobble Nuts & Tourists Fly Past Cubs at Riverview

Jesse Hodges belted a solo HR and singled, Jordan Hankins singled twice, drove-in a run, and scored another, and Jake Stinnett tossed five innings of one-run ball as the Cubs took a 4-1 lead through five innings, but the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies Lo-A affiliate) scored four in the 6th, two in the 8th, and two more in the 9th, to rally to a 9-7 victory over the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) on Field #5. and Jacob Rogers and Kevin Brown hammered doubles and scored, Shawon Dunston Jr and Jeimer Candelario drilled RBI singles, and Wes Darvill slugged a two-run home run to highlight a five-run 3rd, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Modesto Nuts (Rockies Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

Brown (two doubles and a single) and Candelario (two singles and a double) collected three hits a piece for the Pelicans. 

Chris Denorfia (hamstring rehab) saw his first game action in a couple of weeks, serving as a DH for Myrtle Beach and going 1-3. He led-off each of the first three innings, flying out F-9 in his first AB, bouncing back to the pitcher 1-3 his second time up, and then clubbing a ringing double into the right-centerfield gap in his third Plate Appearance.

While Denorfia jogged somewhat gingerly into second base and looked to be something less than 100% on his double, a minute later he went full-tilt from second to home to score on the Dunston ground RBI single to center. 

South Bend RHP Zach Hedges had a tough outing while piggy-backing with Stinnett on Field #5. Coming in with a 4-1 lead in the top of the 6th, Hedges allowed eight run (all earned) on nine hits (including two doubles, a triple, and a home run) and two walks (plus a wild pitch) and no strikeouts in four innings of work.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):  

Bryant & Lopez Go Deep and Arrieta & Wada Look Sharp at Riverview Park

Kris Bryant slugged a solo home run over the CF fence, lined an RBI single, walked twice, and scored three runs, Rafael Lopez belted a three-run HR and collected another RBI on a bases loaded walk, Addison Russell hammered an RBI triple, walked, and scored two runs, and Miguel Montero ripped two RBI singles and scored a run, as the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) lambasted the Sacramento RiverCats (San Francisco Giants AAA affiliate) 14-4 on Field #6, and Ryan Dent and Cael Brockmeyer drilled back-to-back RBI doubles in the bottom of the 2nd as the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) and the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA affiliate) played to a 2-2 tie on Field #5, in Cactus League minor league game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Ex-Cubs Ronny Cedeno and Brett Jackson each doubled and scored a run for Sacramento.  

With the Chicago Cubs idle, Jake Arrieta got his scheduled work in with Iowa in the AAA game, throwing five innings (58 pitches - 43 strikes) and allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits (four singles and a double) and no walks (but two WP), with six strikeouts (including five in a row at one point - the first four swinging), and a 4/4 GO/FO. 

LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (groin & hamstring rehab) got the start for Tennessee in the AA game and threw 3.1 IP of shutout ball (47 pitches - 30 strikes), allowing two hits (a single and a double) and no walks, with four strikeouts, and a 2/4 GO/FO.  

CF Albert Almora left the Tennessee game with a right knee injury, but he was able to walk (limp) to the clubhouse. 

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):   

Lester Throws in Intrasquad Game at Riverview

John Andreoli and Ryan Dent slugged solo home runs and Rubi Silva drilled a two-run single, leading the Iowa Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Tennessee Smokies in a five-inning Spring Training minor league intrasquad game played on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park this morning. 

Victor Caratini belted a two-run double and drew a walk and Kevin Brown singled, doubled, and scored a run for the Smokies. 

Jon Lester got the start for the I-Cubs, and threw 84 pitches (62 strikes) while facing 20 hitters. He allowed eight hits (two doubles, a triple, and five singles) and no walks (but two wild pitches), and he struck out four (two looking and two swinging), with a 1/6 GO/FO. Lester threw 81 pitches through four innings and and it looked like his day might be over, but then he went back out to the mound and faced one batter (Jeffrey Baez) in the top of the 5th, who rifled a triple on an 0-2 pitch. At that point, Lester was relieved.  

Lester looked VERY hittable today as the young Smokies hitters consistently squared his offerings up and made lots of hard contact. If the Cubs want to get Lester another minor league start before he faces MLB hitters, they could put him on the 15-day DL retroactive to last Friday (nine days prior to MLB Opening Day being the furthest back a DL stint can be backdated during Spring Training), and maybe have him start a minor league game this coming Sunday (the last day of Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games), and then he would be eligible to be reinstated from the DL on Saturday April 11th. (NOTE: MLB Cactus League and Grapefruit League Spring Training games are considered "official" games, so players on the DL cannot play in these games, and a DL stint cannot be backdated past the last time the player appeared in an official MLB Spring Training game; but pitching or playing in a minor league Spring Training game or in an intrasquad game does not affect DL eligiblity as far as backdating the DL stint is concerned, and a player on the DL can play in a minor league Spring Training game and/or in an intrasquad game without restriction). 

Despite being sent down by the Cubs on Monday, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell have yet to take the field at Minor League Camp. None of the three played in the Futures Game last night at Sloan Park (and the Cubs sure could have used them, too), none of the three participated in work-outs (fielding practice, baserunning drills, and BP) with the Iowa squad this morning, and none of the three played in the Lester intrasquad game (and they were not on the bench, either). So it's very possible that Baez, Bryant, and Russell are still with the big club, despite being technically on the Iowa roster.   

The game was called with two outs in the top of the 5th inning. 

Here is the box score from this morning's intrasquad game: 

The Future Is Where We Are Going to Spend the Rest of Our Lives

The Amazing Criswell (from Plan 9 from Outer Space): Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown... the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you, the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts...


Lewis Brinson and Kellin Deglan hammered two-run doubles and nine pitchers (including six of their Top 10 pitching prospects--Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez, Andrew Faulkner, Jake Thompson, Luke Jackson, Luis Ortiz, and Jose LeClerc) combined to toss a five-hitter with 13 strikeouts, helping the Rangers Prospects defeat the Cubs Prospects 5-1 in the 2015 Cubs-Rangers Spring Training Futures Game played Monday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Apparently the Cubs didn't get ALL of the Rangers best prospects in trades over the past three years (at least not yet), because they obviously have a few left in their system (and Rangers #1 prospect Joey Gallo didn't even play in the game).  

Willson Contreras knocked-in the lone Cub run with an RBI double, but probably the best overall performance by a Cub position player was turned-in by 2014 #1 draft pick catcher Kyle Schwarber, who walked in both of his At Bats (both times on 3-2 pitches), and also helped Corey Black get out of jams in two different innings by throwing out Ranger baserunners trying to steal (one at 2nd and one at 3rd).

And the best Cub pitching performance was by #1 pitching prospect C. J. Edwards (acquired from the Rangers in the Mattt Garza trade back in 2013), who retired all six men he faced (K, L-4, K, 4-3, F-9, K - all strikeouts were swinging). 

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only) 

Cubs Thank Kane County for the Memories by a Score of 5-2

Ryan McNeil threw three innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts, Charcer Burks delivered a double and an RBI triple and scored a run, and Frandy de la Rosa reached base four times (RBI double, two singles, and an HBP), drove-in a run, and scored another, leading the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) to a 5-2 victory over the Kane County Cougars (Arizona Diamondbacks Lo-A affiliate) on Field #5, and Jake Stinnett threw five innings of two-run ball, Yasiel Balaguert drilled three hits (RBI double and two singles), and Trey Martin slugged a solo HR, singled and scored, drove-in a run with a sacrifice fly, and pulled back what would have certainly been a home run with a leaping catch over the left-centerfield fence, helping the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) to a 5-2 victory over the Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks Hi-A affiliate), in Cactus League minor league game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game on Field #6 was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair so that all of the pitchers scheduled to throw today could get their work.       

A number of pitchers and position players from the Cubs Eugene/Mesa (Extended Spring Training) squad saw action in the games.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Pelicans Brief South Bend on Way to Succeed in Intrasquad Business

Shawon Dunston Jr stroked an RBI double, reached base on a bunt single, and scored two runs, Trey Martin clubbed an RBI triple, stole two bases, and scored two runs, and Gioskar Amaya reached base three times on two walks and a single, helping the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to an 8-5 victory over the South Bend Cubs in Minor League Camp intrasquad action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Frandy de la Rosa roped a triple and an RBI single and scored a run for South Bend in a losing cause. 

Four pitchers threw in the game, with two starting pitchers "piggy-backing" for each squad. Of the four, Erick Leal had the worst outing, allowing five runs on eight hits (including two doubles and a triple) and a walk (plus a throwing error and a wild pitch) in just 3.2 IP.  

The game was called with one out in the top of the 8th inning.

Here is the abridged box score from the game:  

Smokies Drop BayBears, But Aces Trump I-Cubs at Riverview

Jake Hannemann ripped an RBI triple and a single, walked, and scored a run, and Jeimer Candelario stroked a single and a solo home run and drove-in another run with a 3-1 GO, leading the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) to a 6-4 victory over the Mobile BayBears (Arizona Diamondbacks AA affiliate) on Field #5, and Justin Marks tossed four shutout innings with six strikeouts, and Danny Worth and Peter O'Brien blasted solo home runs, as the Reno Aces (D'backs AAA affiliate) rallied to edge the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) 5-4 on Field #6, in Cactus League minor league game action this afternoon at Mesa Cubtown at Riverview Park. 

Brandon Drury belted an RBI double and a two-run inside-the-park HR for Mobile in a losing cause. 

In Cubs Spring Training roster news, NRI catcher (and 2014 #1 draft pick) Kyle Schwarber has been sent to Minor League Camp. He has been initially assigned to the Iowa squad (subject to change) and in fact was in the I-Cubs starting lineup as a DH this afternoon (he went 2-4 with two singles).

Also, Cubs 2012 5th round draft pick LHP Anthony Prieto (Americas HS - El Paso, TX) has retired. The 21-year old Prieto underwent Tommy John Surgery last season, and he was far enough along in his rehab that he was able to throw an inning against the Ontario Nationals (Canadian amateur team) this past Monday. But he needed 29 pitches to get through the inning, throwing more balls than strikes and walking the bases loaded, before evenually retiring the side.   

Prieto is the second Cub draft pick from the 2012 class to retire in the last couple of months, with 2012 6th round pick RHP Trey Lang (Gateway CC) having retired prior to the start of Minor League Camp. Lang had major command issues throughout his pro career and had been unable to escape Extended Spring Training and short-season ball.    

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games played today at Riverview Park (Cubs players only):

Pelicans Don't Know the Way to Beat San Jose

Michael Santos tossed three innings of shutout ball and Rodney Price blasted a two run HR, as the Augusta GreenJackets (SF Giants Lo-A affiliate) edged the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) 4-3 on Field #5, and Randy Ortiz and Steven Neff (ex-LHP) belted two run triples and Ryder Jones hammered a two-run double, leading the San Jose Giants (San Francisco Giants Hi-A affiliate) to an 8-5 victory over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa Cubtown at Riverview Park.   

21-year old RHP James Norwood (Cubs 2014 7th round draft pick - Saint Louis University) got the start for South Bend and threw four innings of two-hit shutout ball, retiring the last eleven men he faced. Justin Marra drilled a two-run triple and a single for the South Bend squad, and Jacob Rogers drove-in three runs with an RBI double and two-run HR for the Myrtle Beach squad. 

Prior to the games on Fields 5 & 6, RHPs Austin Reed (2014 TJS) and Jesus Castillo squared-off in a two-inning "sim" game on Field #4. 

Here is the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only): 

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